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Happy 40th birthday, West Coast Environmental Law

17 November, 2014

This year, West Coast Environmental Law is proud to celebrate our 40th anniversary and the many accomplishments the organization has achieved over the past four decades.

WCEL turns 40

This year, West Coast Environmental Law is proud to celebrate our 40th anniversary and the many accomplishments the organization has achieved over the past four decades.

Leading Haida Lawyer and Gitanyow Hereditary Chief Joint Winners of 2014 Andrew Thompson Award

14 November, 2014

The winners of the 2014 Andrew Thompson award were announced at our 40th anniversary celebration last week. The award was established in 2002 by West Coast Environmental Law and the Thompson family, as a legacy to the late Dr. Andrew Thompson, one of BC’s foremost environmental lawyers.  The award is given periodically to individuals who have demonstrated a significant lifetime contribution to environmental protection and sustainability in British Columbia through the law.  The 2014 award recognized individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fields of environmental and Aboriginal law, or to the revitalization, recognition and/or enforcement of Indigenous environmental law.

The winners of the 2014 Andrew Thompson award were announced at our 40th anniversary celebration last week. 

Hereditary Chief, Lawyer jointly awarded Andrew Thompson Award

Friday, November 7, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Vancouver, Coast Salish Territory.  West Coast Environmental Law congratulates the winners of the 2014 Andrew Thompson Award: Glen Williams/Malii, Gitanyow Hereditary Chief, and Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson/gid7ahl-gudsllaay, lawyer and member of the Haida Nation.

Canada-China Free Trade Agreement is not the end of environmental law

3 November, 2014

Since FIPPA was ratified we’ve received several inquiries asking what the ratification means for the environment. While the FIPPA provisions are certainly alarming, we do not think anything is to be gained by over-stating the problems associated with the FIPPA as they relate to the field of environmental law.   With a few notable exceptions (such as the 31 year cancellation period), FIPPA’s provisions are not completely different than terms that appear in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), or in other such agreements.  NAFTA and other agreements have resulted in some high profile and disturbing claims against the Canadian government – including related to environmental matters – but they have not entirely removed the ability of Canadian governments to pass environmental laws.  Nor will FIPPA. 

It is an understatement to say we were disappointed that the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA) was recently ratified by the Canadian government, after almost two years of delay. Since FIPPA was ratified we’ve received several inquiries asking what the ratification means for the Enbridge proposal, for other specific proposed projects, or for the environment generally.  One email asked:

Vote for People's Choice for Andrew Thompson Award

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Voting is now open for the People's Choice for the Andrew Thompson Award 2014!  Vote up to one time per day until October 31st.  And please spread the word.

Click here to read about the 5 excellent finalists and to cast your vote. 

Click here for more information about the Andrew Thompson Award. 

Proposed BC Societies Act could invite litigation against non-profits

18 September, 2014

We believe that BC’s incorporated societies – community development organizations, church groups, secular groups, community organizations, hunting groups, and, yes, environmental organizations such as West Coast Environmental Law Association – collectively make for a stronger British Columbia. That is why we’re outraged by a BC Government proposal that could be used by anyone who has a bone to pick with a society to drag it before the courts.

We believe that BC’s incorporated societies – community development organizations, church groups, secular groups, community organizations, hunting groups, and, yes, environmental organizations such as West Coast Environmental Law Association – collectively make for a stronger British Columbia.

Who writes Canada’s Environmental Laws?

17 September, 2014

We’ve written before about the apparent and unacceptable influence of the oil and gas industry on Canada’s environmental laws, which may have extended to a suggestion that the Canadian government roll multiple amendments into omnibus budget bills (as it did in 2012). Two documents obtained recently under freedom of information legislation demonstrate that industry, and in particular the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), is still at work trying to weaken our environmental laws.

 

We’ve written before about the apparent and unacceptable influence of the oil and gas industry on Canada’s environmental laws, which may have extended to a suggestion that the Canadian government roll multiple amendments into omnibus budget bills (as it did in 2012).

Environmental lawyers find glaring gaps in proposed aquaculture regulations

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

VANCOUVER. Environmental lawyers have raised serious concerns over proposed new federal regulations that would allow aquaculture facilities to dump aquatic drugs, pesticides and fish waste into wild fish habitat with impunity. In submissions made today to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the West Coast Environmental Law Association has rejected the government’s plan to reduce oversight over fish farms and calls for stronger environmental laws to protect BC’s struggling salmon populations.

Weakening BC’s environmental laws risks eroding social licence for Government’s Cleanest LNG goals

17 June, 2014

Several of the most contentious changes to environmental laws passed during the 2014 spring session of the BC Legislature seem to have been developed, and pushed through, in a mad rush and without adequate public consultation. The goal of these laws seems, at least in part, to be to remove perceived environmental constraints on certain types of development – notably natural gas exploration, development and export. Such laws erode environmental legal safeguards, and in turn reduce public confidence in BC’s environmental safety net. This will ultimately hurt the government’s desire to push through quick LNG development. 

Poll after poll say that British Columbians favour strong environmental laws – laws that don’t trade our environment off against short-term economic gains. As a result, when governments try to weaken environmental laws in the name of growth, it often backfires, with development proposals losing the social licence that they need, and becoming caught up in public controversy.

Challenging U.S. coal to China from Texada Island, BC

13 June, 2014

Should BC be used to trans-ship American coal to China? Who gets to decide? And what does that mean for our environment? These issues and others will be considered in a legal challenge brought by Voters Taking Action on Climate Change (VTACC), with support from our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund, to a government decision approving the ten- to twenty-fold dramatic expansion of coal shipping from Texada Island.  Most of this coal will come from Wyoming and Montana, shipped through the controversial proposed Fraser Surrey Docks Coal Port, and could, in the long term, increase to as much as 8 million metric tonnes per year.  What happens on Texada will have an impact throughout the region – and globally.

Should BC be used to trans-ship American coal to China? Who gets to decide? And what does that mean for our environment?

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